We crave the special moments that make our precious travel time
most memorable and are willing to bend over backwards to get them.
Even the best guidebooks and Michelin endorsements can't guarantee the monumental moments you hope for; ultimately it remains
a game of chance when it comes to planning the perfect Paris visit.
Beautiful music, magical sunsets, revolutionary works of art ...
Yes, most of us realize when life's best benchmarks touch our heart.
In Paris, we get the best food and wine, the best
architecture and the best, it seems, of just about everything.
It's all at our fingertips yet every so often we're reminded that the
very best moments lie in the smallest details, particularly when
we fall upon them by chance -- what I call random acts of imagination.
It's true, any good wanderer can find a devil of a good time all over
the city -- and just when I think I know Paris like a cab driver, a new
treasure sneaks up and I wonder how the hell I missed it before.
And I can't wait to take another shot at it soon.
A recent find is what I'll define as the Saint-Georges
(metro) neighborhood in the 9th arrondissement.
incomparable Palais Garnier and big department stores like
Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.
But if that's all you recognize, oh boy, you're in for
one whale of a surprise and more good times than you can count.
Starting at pretty Place Saint-Georges, get ready for
something new and unmistakably endearing.
just a little change of scenery.
We all have our Paris favorites and our navigational signals tend to
focus on just a fraction of what's here and now in the city.
So there's no moment like the present to reach out and expand our horizons.
I study restaurant reviews before I get to Paris and had already settled
on a bistro located in the 9th called Le Bon Georges.
Two of my favorite Paris food gurus, Alec Lobrano and David Lebovitz,
have heaped praise on this "good, honest food prepared by a staff who cares"*
so it sat near the top of my list -- offering a good reason to visit a new neighborhood.
*per David Lebovitz
Since there are some 350+ museums in Paris, I calculated there
was at least one within reach that had escaped my prior scrutiny.
In fact, there are several good choices so I took the scientific approach
of eeny-meeny-miny-moe and selected Musée Gustave Moreau.
Finally, I've read raves about the local market street rue des Martyrs
and thought what the heck -- it would make for a great day to visit all
three -- the market, the museum and the restaurant -- all logically located
within a stones' throw from picturesque Place Saint-George.
So there you have it -- a reasonable itinerary focused on a new neighborhood,
a fresh playground for a traveler burning with curiosity about every corner of Paris.
My game of chance was about to begin.
Everything you've read about it is true and then some.
Its enticing charm and seemingly unlimited choices of agreeable shops
will tempt you into staying longer than you had planned.
This is a street filled with real people and anyone with even the most
modest sense of imagination will appreciate the atmosphere that manages
to be both laid back and bustling all in the same breath.
Treat yourself to at least an hour or two of nipping from one store to the next.
Patisseries and chocolate shops for starters (I ate my weight in chocolate and caramels at mouth-watering Henri Le Roux) and don't miss the chance
to mix with the locals in any one of the marchés bio or wine shops.
Or if you prefer regional specialties, there's one for the Corsican in you --
Terra Corsa -- where you'll pause just long enough for the camera
to say "charcuterie"... or perhaps you'll elect to have a waffle snack
from our friends to the north at Le Comptoir Belge.
Most of us know the martyrdom of Saint-Denis who walked headless to the
butte of Montmartre, likely the namesake of this particular street.
I, too, lost my head in this foodie wonderland though I doubt
I'll gain sainthood for my efforts.
Rue des Martyrs, thank you.
I'll be back -- and I'd wager a bet, so will you.
blueprint of "must-do" museums -- but it should have been.
It's unusual in every way.
Established by the artist while he was still alive,
Moreau's townhouse, finely turned out and offered to the French state
as a museum in 1897, was at first refused!
Filled-to-the-brim, the three tiered mansion displays thousands of paintings
and drawings as well as a nice selection of sculpture and furniture.
Dubbed a "symbolist" painter, Gustave Moreau's heyday was the
very time Impressionists were making their influence felt throughout the world.
Pseudo-religious creative wasn't exactly on the tip of every art dealer's
tongue but his distinctly haunting appeal couldn't be denied.
Friends Edward Manet and Edgar Degas may or may not have appreciated
his uniqueness but his soon-to-be-famous student, Henri Matisse, clearly
became a disciple of some of his more universal expressions.
Aren't we fortunate to live in a time where we can enjoy both sides of the easel?
Still, Moreau's one man art movement, characterized by mythical women,
surreal fairies, biblical angels and scary beasts, offer art lovers the
chance to be seduced by this atypical religious art.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed his work.
It doesn't hurt that we get to peek inside his home and studio,
inspiring a personal connection to this particular 19th century artist.
influenced Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven".
The setting is appropriate, don't you think?
make for popular art, but no matter your particular style preference,
you're sure to enjoy a look into the imaginative world of Gustave Moreau.
was for the chance to dine at Le Bon Georges.
Animated, agreeable -- I'd go so far to call it buoyant -- the setting is marvelous.
The food is tops, a lovely mix of french favorites that made us feel we were
dining on grandmere's recipes made with haute cuisine expertise.
By the end of the meal, we felt comfortable and contented,
the ultimate quest of a traveler who lives to dine.
Chatted up by the table both to the left and to the right of us,
the subject was mostly food and raves for the chef.
Girolles to start, beef tartare, salad and rice pudding to finish -- all
created with top-notch ingredients and a sure hand.
Classic bistro fare.
Le Bon Georges felt like an instant neighborhood favorite even though
this was my first time visit to both the restaurant and the neighborhood.
Come to think of it, this joyful bistro and the
Saint-Georges neighborhood mirror one another perfectly.
Don't miss it!
But when we're lucky enough to be in Paris, sometimes it seems
we get the lemonade along with the whole blooming orchard.
Greedy travelers that we are, we constantly look for more.
That's why, when it comes to my favorite city in the world,
I keep hoping for a mulligan -- as they say in golf -- a do-over.
No, not because I took a bad shot or landed in the woods -- rather,
I hope to replicate the feeling and the magic of the last trip,
keeping a sharp eye out seeking both new and old fireworks.
Life Love Laughter -- It's all there.
Random acts of imagination bear fruit and we grow with each and every step we take.
This is the Paris of our dreams and positive proof you can't have a bad day in Paris.
Your flights of fantasy offer the best opportunity to see the real Paris.
It's a game of chance worth playing.
Enjoy the view!